Personal Assistant Pleads Guilty to Stealing over $200,000 From a Severna Park Couple
Baltimore, Maryland - Patricia A. Staugler, age 42, of Ashburn, Virginia, pleaded guilty today to mail fraud arising from a scheme in which she stole at least $208,004 from a Severna Park couple for whom she worked.
The guilty plea was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein and Special Agent in Charge Richard A. McFeely of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
According to Staugler’s plea agreement, Staugler worked as an executive assistant to M.F. at a technology start-up business from the fall of 2002 until 2004, which M.F. ran out of his home in Severna Park, Maryland. M.F. and his wife also employed Staugler as their personal assistant until January 2009. Staugler’s responsibilities included arranging the couple’s household repairs and renovations, paying their bills, communicating with the payroll servicer for their other employees, reconciling their checking and savings account statements and keeping track of the couple’s finances on an accounting software program. The couple also gave Staugler authority to move funds from their personal brokerage account into their personal checking accounts; and authorized Stauger to pay their credit card bills from their personal checking accounts, and to sign the wife’s name on personal checks to satisfy the couple’s debts.
Staugler added her name to the couple’s personal credit card account and by early November 2004 began using the credit card in her name to make purchases for herself. By February 2005 she began using her access to the couple’s personal checking accounts to electronically transfer funds to herself to satisfy her debts, including paying the property taxes and power company bills for her home. She also wrote checks to herself that she deposited into her personal checking account to pay her home renovation debts. Staugler hid her illicit transfers by entering misleading entries into the couple’s accounting software.
In late 2005, Staugler began working for another of M.F.’s start-up businesses as his personal assistant and continued to work part-time for the couple. After paying business expenses using the couple’s money, she submitted expense reimbursement requests to the business’ accounting department, which issued Staugler reimbursement checks that she deposited in her personal bank account.
When the couple resumed control of their personal finances in early 2009, they discovered the illicit transfers of their money for Staugler’s personal benefit, including payments of sizeable membership dues over three years at a luxury resort near Staugler’s home in Virginia; of tutoring service and college tuition for Staugler’s daughter; to 5-star hotels, restaurants and bars in Washington, D.C., New York City and northern Virginia; for installing windows in Staugler’s home; and to a tanning salon, jewelry stores and phone companies.
During the course of the fraud scheme from at least November 2004 to February 2009, Staugler made at least 150 unauthorized payments totaling at least $208,004. As part of her plea agreement, Staugler agrees to pay restitution in an amount to be determined by the court as the total loss, including the undisputed minimum loss amount of $208,004.
Staugler faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and a fine of $250,000 or twice the loss. U.S. District Judge Catherine C. Blake scheduled her sentencing for December 3, 2010 at 2:00 p.m.
United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein thanked Assistant U.S. Attorneys Sujit Raman and Joyce K. McDonald, who are prosecuting the case.